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Can someone be too old or too late for physics?

  1. Feb 26, 2014 #1
    Can someone be "too old" or "too late" for physics?

    I am a first year physics student, but I am 20 years old (pretty old for my country, average starting age is 18), because I started after leaving med school, which I find extremely jailed in "memorization walls", with no place for analytical problem solving, something that I have loved all my life. I started to love physics because I was introduced to neuroscience, which lead me to information theory, probability analisis, mathematics and physics.
    I decided to study physics not only because I practically become obsessed with any problem I encourage, but also because I find physics to be the only "real" foundation of the understanting of nature, thanks to its mathematical basis.
    Well, now the problem is that I constantly see that most physicists that discover great things all started very very young, which is not my case. So, besides I am really good at math (the first of my class), I am periodically dissapointed about the fact that I am maybe too old to make a difference, and this sometimes brings me back to think if I made the right decision when I left med school.

    The thread here is about sharing information about cases of physicists that did great discoveries without being extremely precocious or "geniuses" since they were kids. Also your opinion about this kind of situation would be of real help.

    What do you think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2014 #2
  4. Feb 26, 2014 #3
    Well, this was one of the places where I read that "if you want to earn a Nobel Prize blah blah blah, you should start studying before you are supposed to", besides, I Am already in university studying physics. Anyway, thank you very much for the resource!
  5. Feb 26, 2014 #4
    Why is a Nobel Prize everyone's benchmark for useful work? I don't understand that mentality at all. Nobel Laureates represent the very apex of scientific research/innovation (plus a bit of politics and such). That's like saying that all NBA players in the 1990's should have retired because Michael Jordan was the best. Science is not done by a handful of brilliant people who revolutionize the world in an instant of epiphany, despite what the lay press, historical texts etc show. It is a slow and arduous process where the major breakthroughs, attributed to a single person or small group, are built on a solid foundation of work done by people who the majority of the world will never hear of.

    Every heard of Charles Darwin? How about Alfred Russel Wallace, Charles Lyell, James Hutton or Thomas Malthus?
  6. Feb 26, 2014 #5
    I think just like you, in an enteview, Feynman said that he did not want any kind of honours, especially the Nobel Prze, he just loved to solve problems and discover answers, and if any, he just like the kind of recognition that arises when you see other scientists working with your work as their base.
  7. Feb 26, 2014 #6


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